Inappropriate ascendancy-A A +A
An Independent View
Monday, August 13, 2012
DURING the Scholastic Year (SY) 2000–2001, I was Vice-President of INSPA, the Parents Association for La Salle. This was a valuable experience for me and I enjoyed the fine company of Ed Zata, Atty. Roxy Lacson and his wife Juliet, Rodel Parcon, Joe Seva, Jun Musa and many more. We worked closely with the school which in the spirit of co-operation and transparency kept the parents abreast of the school’s plans. Some fundraising was involved and during SY 2000–2001, INSPA sponsored the grade school covered court—a necessary addition to the school’s facilities, particularly in inclement weather.
Since SY 2005–2006, we have been Tay Tungian parents. Initially, we were concerned as to whether our children could handle the Chinese classes. This turned out not to be a problem. Despite the fact that Chinese is not the lingua franca in the Honeyman household, our children were able to handle the Chinese classes, thanks to the friendly and helpful Chinese staff at Tay Tung, (BTTHS).
We were also happy with the academic progress that our children were making. Neighbors said to us: “But Tay Tung does not have a PTA” (Parents Teachers Association). Correct. But this did not worry us. Communications for several years from 2005 with teachers and the schools administrative staff were excellent and, as far as we are concerned, a PTA was unnecessary.
Unfortunately, things have changed recently due to extraneous issues over which neither Tay Tung nor the parents have any control. This results from the high-handed antics of the Department of Education (DepEd) and its secretary Armin Luistro.
It began with the inappropriate propaganda efforts in relation to K-12, an education system which is erroneously claimed by DepEd to have universal application. By February 2012, when the grade school students were about to graduate, the question arose as to the composition and length of their high school education.
Traditionally, the idea was that graduates from grade school would embark on a four year high school course which, subject to satisfactory academic performance, could lead to a respected four-year tertiary course culminating in a university degree. But Luistro’s K-12 propaganda put a spanner in the works. His bizarre idea is that grade school graduates would go to high school in which a four year course would lead to a junior (read inferior) high school diploma and it would require six years of high school education before a proper (senior) high diploma would be awarded. This is a half-baked idea resulting from inadequate consultation with the academic tertiary sector.
Tay Tung parents were aware of what was happening although the Board of Trustees showed no signs of the leadership qualities that the school needed.
Parents provided the school with missives dated 6 and 23 February 2012 which were designed to help the school understand what the proposed DepEd’s strategy would create from the students’ point of view. The school misread the signs from both DepEd and the parents and its lack of comprehension has resulted in a difficult situation for BTTHS. We hope the matter can be resolved quickly.
The position is that on 17 February 2012, Luistro indicated that the six year high school program will not be compulsory for private schools. But BTTHS was slow to react to his pronouncement. Parents were seeking a retention of Tay Tung’s excellent four year high school course and this was no longer in violation of DepEd’s policy. The Board of Trustees showed no signs of knowing what was happening and deferred to the principal teacher. Without consulting the parents (and this shows that a PTA is necessary) the school has started a high school program which indicates a six-year duration.
Early signals have been seen in science. A cornerstone of Chemistry, a key scientific subject, is the Periodic Table. In a four year course, students try to grasp a range of Chemical phenomena via the Periodic Table. Now that there is an (undisclosed) six year program, without any additional curricula benefits, the question arises: ‘HOW DO WE STRETCH OUT A FOUR YEAR PROGRAM TO A SIX YEAR ONE?’
Easy! Let’s play games. Let’s create Bingo cards with the periodic table. Let’s waste time!
The Board of Trustees (BOT) of Tay Tung now wishes to join in with the parents in evaluating what is going on. Too late!
It is parents, not the school’s management that is providing the necessary leadership. The BOT has rendered itself inutile.
What next? We do not know what BTTHS will do. There is no longer effective leadership.
The issue is the proposed DepEd budget of P292.7 billion. Is this budget designed to rectify admitted inadequacies in providing classrooms and teachers, coupled with the implementation of RA 10157 which specified compulsory kindergarten education? Or is it a clandestine way of introducing K-12 behind the backs of Congress which has the authority, NOT DepEd, to introduce changes to the existing system embodied by the 1982 Republic Act dealing with education.
Back to BTTHS. The BOT now want to know what parents are thinking. This is a sea-change. Before the BOT did not care about the views of parents. But now, due to domestic issues which are too boring to talk about here, the parents are revolting. Dark hints about rallies abound. Surely not! We thought parents were acquiescent matronas who kowtowed to the school’s management. But now we have unplanned resignations from teachers which is not acceptable. Private school parents pay for, they believe, better education. But this is no longer now a guarantee. The recent National Achievement Test (NAT) for SY 2011-2012’s Grade 3 and 6 indicates that Tay Tung has slipped rapidly down the league table. Oh dear! We expect the BOT to remedy this unsatisfactory situation. We also expect the BOT, whether or not it allows a PTA, to show more respect to parents. Hitherto ‘meetings’ were held in the school which parents were talked down to and their valid concerns were ignored. We hope this will no longer happen. We also do not need ‘pilosopo’ (aka irrelevant, immaterial, incompetent, untruthful) comments about parental concerns. It is untrue that parents are ‘resistant to change’ as stated by a BOT Administrator who should know better. At a secondary level, we welcome more academic input. But this is not forthcoming.
It is not too late for the BTTHS community to recover. We do need, however, a clear statement about proposed secondary education at the school. We do not need for BTTHS to be subservient on secondary schooling education to an ill-considered DepEd ‘policy’.
As an incorrigible Sinophile, I am surprised that the Chinese BOT are not grasping the immense business opportunities for private sector secondary education. DepEd has become largely irrelevant due to its silly pronouncements. The first component is to ensure that Secondary and Tertiary education are in harmony. Luistro has not shown any interest in this vital issue. Therefore, he has sidelined himself.
Consequently, a private school which states publicly that it will mount an excellent four year Secondary course will attract a vast number of fee-paying parents. The public system can go its own way with ‘jam step’ and ‘Bingo cards’, but if the private sector maintains its grip on reality it will engender the significant fees obtainable from those who do not want their children’s time to be wasted.
“EDUCATION HAS PRODUCED A VAST POPULATION ABLE TO READ BUT UNABLE TO DISTINGUISH WHAT IS WORTH READING, AN EASY PREY TO SENSATIONS AND CHEAP APPEALS.” –
English Social History (1942) chap.18
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 13, 2012.